True perry, made from 100 percent pear juice, isn’t always easy to come by, but is entirely worth the effort it takes to find one. Once you taste a magnificent perry, you’ll find a new appreciation for perfect pears, their sublimely delicate succulence and natural coupling with food.
In this recipe, toasted washed rind cheese with mild, buttery leeks and mushrooms makes an ideal pairing with the dry and dainty perry from Mission-Trail Cider Co., made from pears grown in the cool mountains of California. Served alongside a salad, it’s a cozy dinner for two.
Recipe by Chef Jen Biesty, Shakewell, Oakland, CA
1 ½ tablespoons butter
2 leeks, dark green tops discarded and thinly sliced into half-moons
1 bay leaf
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
1 tablespoon thyme, picked and chopped roughly
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon dry sherry vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons sweet sherry vinegar
¼ cup Amontillado sherry
1 teaspoon white truffle oil
Olive oil, for brushing
1 (8-ounce) wheel Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk cheese, or other cow’s milk, washed rind cheese
1 bunch chives, chopped
Heat butter in a saucepot over medium-low heat until melted. Add leeks, bay leaf and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks have become tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside for assembly. Heat a stainless steel sauté pan on medium heat and add canola oil. When oil is hot, add mushrooms and sauté on high heat for 5-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Continue to sauté until mushrooms are golden in color. Add shallots, thyme and butter to mushrooms and sauté until shallots become translucent and begin to color.
Deglaze the pan with vinegars and sherry. Remove from heat once the liquid has cooked off. Add truffle oil, taste for seasoning and adjust salt if needed. Set aside.
Preheat broiler to medium. Slice baguette into ¼-inch slices. Brush each slice with olive oil and toast in oven on a baking sheet until golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Pile 1 tablespoon of leek mixture on each toast, then place mushrooms on top. Top with slice of cheese and toast again until cheese melts. Garnish with chopped chives and serve.